January 2020


The “doctor’s phone” rang.  For those of you who don’t remember the times before eScripts, that was a dedicated telephone line most pharmacies had for physicians in the area.  It had an unlisted number, a rotary dial, and a typical desk-type handset that you cradled between your ear and your shoulder as you used both hands and wrote down prescriptions the physician actually called in…….and it was avocado green. (the phone, not the prescription)  I answered the ringing phone, no answering machines at that time, and the physician on the other end of the line said:

Richard…….did you type the name of the medication on this prescription label?”  (We used typewriters in those days…..Google it!)

Why, yes I did” I replied proudly.  (I was always proud of myself in those days when I did something progressive.)

That began a 10 minute tirade about how he was the physician, he knew it all, I was just the pharmacist and I was to NEVER, not ever, label a prescription or talk to his patients about their medicine.  If he wanted them to know something, he would tell them.  As I recall, the word I typed at the end of the prescription label was Benadryl.

Fast forward to today when our collaborative physicians call or come in my office seeking advice, or we see a patient in the pharmacy and send them directly to the physician because we suspect shingles, strep, hypertensive crisis or some such issue.  Times have changed.

Oh, we still have the odd physician who doesn’t want to hear our opinion or thinks we don’t know squat, especially about things they don’t know squat about, but by and large this profession of ours has made its mark on modern medicine.  From Pharmacogenomics to Pharmacokinetics to clinical pharmacy practice, I would argue there is no one able to speak coherently to these issues other than a pharmacist.  If you don’t agree, throw cytochrome p450 2d6 into a conversation with a fellow healthcare provider and watch their eyes glaze over.

That’s a lot of change over the course of a single career.  Odd thing is, changes seem to be coming faster and faster.  National focus is on pharmacy.  Though the media focus seems to be entirely on prescription cost containment, if you bypass the media, those who deal with payers (not PBMs) interested in improving health and lowering costs realize that neither can be done without pharmacy. Much of the interest in pharmacy has to do with non-dispensing roles. We may well have to step away from the counter to step into the future.  It’s a step we must be willing to take.

As 2020 dawns, keep your options open.  Stay nimble.  Be able to provide new services and products to your patients.  Look up from the counter towards the horizon.  If you don’t you may only see the sunset.

Best of luck for 2020, it looks to be both challenging and filled with possibilities.

Happy New Year from ESPhA

I never did stop labeling those prescriptions or talking to those patients 😉)

Richard Logan, Jr. PharmD


Richard Logan, Jr. PharmD, community pharmacist, community pharmacy advocate, and ESPhA founding member